Danny Ross has made a desperate plea for change after attending his mum’s funeral with just nine other relatives, including his grieving father, who was not allowed to be comforted by family during the service.
Mr Ross’s mum Clare took her own life two weeks ago – just three days before what would have been her 79th birthday – after likening Melbourne’s strict lockdown to a “prison”.
Police sought public assistance in finding her after she disappeared from her Ferntree Gully home, southeast of Melbourne, on the morning of August 30.
Her body was found at a quarry the following day after her car and mobile phone were found in the area, a short drive from her home.
The funeral was held on Friday, but the attendance limit of just 10 family members created a “cold and lonely” atmosphere inside the church, Mr Ross wrote in a Facebook post about his mum’s service.
“Whoever decided that only 10 people can attend a funeral in approximately a 800sqm church needs their heads read,” the post, which went viral soon after, read.
Speaking with Yahoo News Australia, a furious Mr Ross labelled rules restricting his family from comforting each other at his mum’s funeral “inhumane”.
“There were Xs on the pews which were two metres apart and we were just told to sit where the X was, and that was it. I was shocked at the spacing,” Mr Ross said.
“As the service was going, I wasn’t even listening to the service, my blood was boiling inside and I was thinking, this is just not right.”
At the very least, he said someone should have been allowed to sit next to his dad David, 82, who was married to Clare for nearly 60 years.
“There he was crying and he was upset, and no one could go and console him because of social distancing. The whole family is just shattered,” he said.
“If mum had have had 10 kids, who misses out? Dad, or one of the kids? It’s really inhumane and it just goes to show that there’s no compassion coming from the government on funerals.”
Mr Ross and five of his siblings, his mum’s sister and two brothers, plus his dad made up the small group that were legally allowed to commemorate Mrs Ross’s life.
One of many people forced to miss out on going was one of Mrs Ross’s closest friends – a bridesmaid at her wedding and the wife of her brother of 65 years.
“She’s known mum longer than me. It was really hard for them to take, none of mum’s brothers’ partners could come,” Mr Ross said.
‘No history of mental illness’
Mr Ross said his mum was the last person he would have suspected to be at risk of taking her own life, having never been diagnosed with a mental illness or seen a psychiatrist in her whole life.
She had however become “paranoid” since the coronavirus outbreak, having gone and got tested four times in just eight days thinking that she had the virus.
“I could have bet a million dollars my mum would not take her own life. That’s how confident the whole family were,” he said.
Mr Ross added that his mum had always been against the idea, which contradicted her strong catholic beliefs.
“People don’t associate suicide with older people, it’s really uncommon,” he said.
Since the funeral, Mr Ross has been staying with his dad to provide him the support he needs.
“He’s got tonnes of support now, but there was no support for him during the funeral on the day. We just can’t get past how inhumane the service was,” he said.
He argued the sheer size of the church could have easily accommodated far more than 10 guests, and still had space for a safe distance to be kept between everyone.
Mr Ross struggled to understand how warehouses had continued to operate, just at reduced capacities to allow for two square metres per worker, much like the way people were using supermarkets.
“If I had the chance to speak to Daniel Andrews, the only thing I’d like to ask him is, what is the reasoning? I don’t think anybody has an answer,” he said.
Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Sunday a slight easing of restrictions for people in Melbourne to come into force onwards from Monday.
This included the curfew being moved back an hour to begin at 9pm instead of 8pm. Residents still need to stay indoors until 5am.
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